It was a joyful morning with granddaughter Zadie, but now she was napping and I set off on an adventurous climb up to Mt. Tabor. It was my Portland initiation, complete with steady rain. Truth be told, some of the world’s weight was on my shoulders. Nothing earth-shattering, just some difficult discussions I needed to have that I didn’t particularly want to have. And so the switch flipped on as it always does, me the star lawyer gathering evidence for the courtroom drama, right up to the eloquent summation to the jury.
But somewhere in the process of trying to figure out where the heck I was on the downward return (my inner GPS true to form in its ineptitude), the switch flipped again and I was planning some 5-year old music classes. Came up with three dynamic activities both connected to each other and to previous knowledge and leading to the next step of emerging musicianship— hot stuff! And not surprisingly, that shoulder weight was mysteriously gone and my step was lighter, even as I wandered in circles hopelessly lost and getting wetter by the minute.
When Duke Ellington had his Pulitzer Prize snatched away at the last minute for shameful racist reasons, he was asked how he felt about it. The ever-elegant Mr. Ellington replied, “I pouted just long enough to write my next blues composition.” How wise he was! The difference between my 30-minute class plan for twenty 5-year olds and Duke’s majestic compositions is simply a difference in degree, not kind. We both petitioned the same gods and they both came through to transform us with the power of the creative imagination.
Most folks pray to Jesus, Allah, Buddha, Krishna, Yahweh, the Great Spirit, what have you, for help in times of need and it’s not a bad impulse. But let’s face it, they’re all rather busy with more urgent manners than regulating the emotional temperature of each of Earth’s 7 billion inhabitants. Better to invoke the Muse and get to work creating something— any kind, any size. From a well-planned and executed dinner to a grand Opera, creative work helps and heals. Gene Kelly comes dancing into the mind, splashing through the puddles with grace, finesse and jubilation.
If you’re not too busy, I’d suggest either listening to Ellington’s Diminuendo and Crescendo in Blue or coming next Tuesday to my preschool class. Either way, I think you’ll be uplifted. Even when lost in a drenching Portland rain.